Location, Location, Location: Siting Beehives

| 1/15/2014 9:29:00 AM

Tags: beekeeping, Illinois, Julia Miller, Five Feline Farm,

beekeepersSo you have decided to invest in a colony of honey bees. Your package bee order is set to arrive in the spring at just the right time for your location. Your new Langstroth style hive is assembled and waiting at the back door.

Now where do you put this new livestock?

One of the first considerations is access. A perfect location may be available but not easily accessible. You will be visiting the hive every week or so to check on the bees. For a new package installation you will be visiting more often in those early weeks to provide sugar water. In the late summer and fall will be the honey harvest. Supers full of honey are heavy. Access with a truck, utility vehicle (we use a Kawasaki Mule) or at the very least a wagon to pull is critical.

Consider Water

Look around for a good water source within a reasonable flight for the bees. They tend to like water that has some organic matter in it. A farm pond, creek, stream, stock tank or even a goldfish pond will give your bees access to the water they need. 

Most areas will have nectar and pollen nearby but make sure your bees have something to forage. Bees can fly up to three miles for pollen and nectar but more time in flight equals less nectar in the hive. Closer supplies mean more honey.

Consider Sun Exposure

Next look for a site that has full sun. Bees are active from sun up to sun down so locating your hives where there is maximum sun exposure will allow your bees to benefit from a full day's work. Hives should ideally face south. This gives the bees the earliest start in the morning when the sun warms the entrance. Even though bees like sun they also need a bit of protection from wind. For a windbreak, you can locate the hives against a building, a few feet from a fence row, a line of trees or you can build a windbreak. Strong winds can topple over a hive or blow off an outer cover despite your best efforts to weight it down.

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